Internet New Zealand says the 30th birthday of the computer network marks a golden age of freedom that may not last.
The United States Defense Department officially launched the internet on 1 January, 1983, as a way to protect data transfer from enemy attack.
But Internet NZ chief executive Vikram Kumar said the internet has revolutionised daily life in a way its inventors could never have envisaged
He said many governments treat the internet with suspicion and feel threatened by the free flow of information.
Mr Kumar said it is possible the internet will one day split into a part that is open and a part that is closed.